IN-DEPTH: Actors ‘Blacklisted’ for Unvaccinated Status Speak Out

IN-DEPTH: Actors ‘Blacklisted’ for Unvaccinated Status Speak Out

The SAG-AFTRA logo is displayed outside of the National Headquarters on Wilshire Blvd. during the actors strike in Los Angeles, on Oct. 24, 2023. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

Matt McGregor

Matt McGregor

12/20/2023

Updated: 12/22/2023

Actor, stunt performer, and director Dorian Kingi says he hasn’t had a job in the entertainment industry in three years because of his vaccine status.
The son of stuntman Henry Kingi and Emmy-Award-winning actress Lindsay Wagner, Mr. Kingi became a Screen Actors Guild-American Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) member when he was 11 for a part in the 1994 film “Double Dragon.”
His last roles before he began getting rejected because of his religious exemption were in the field of “creature acting” as the ruthless bounty hunter Cad Bane in “The Book of Boba Fett” and as an extradimensional Demogorgon in “Stranger Things.”
Despite SAG-AFTRA’s promise to protect its members from discrimination, as well as the alleged expiration of its vaccine mandate in May 2023, Mr. Kingi, and others, continue to lose jobs because of an unofficial “blacklist” movie studios have made for those who haven’t taken the vaccine or kept up with the booster schedule.
“With the union’s overall stance on inclusion, diversity, and anti-discrimination, it’s just disheartening that there’s been no middle ground regarding this issue,” Mr. Kingi told The Epoch Times.
According to the SAG-AFTRA’s Constitution, the union is “committed to the broadest employment and involvement of our members,” regardless of—among others—race, political affiliation, and disability.
“We are proud to be a model of inclusion, democratic organization and governance,” its constitution reads.
But this must not apply to personal medical decisions, Mr. Kingi said, and because of the continued enforcement of the mandate, people have been pressured to take the vaccine and booster or get fake cards made just to keep a job.
Some of these people have been severely injured, he said, and some have lost their lives.

‘Neither Logical Nor Scientific’

Twelve hours after actress and SAG-AFTRA member Bekka Prewitt took the vaccine in May 2021, she began experiencing adverse reactions, some of which still affect her today.
“I took the vaccine at 4 in the afternoon, and at 4:00 in the morning, I woke up sick to my stomach and collapsed on the bathroom floor,” she told The Epoch Times. “I immediately felt the lack of ability to control my body. I couldn’t lift my head. That’s when I started to feel like someone was jabbing me in the stomach with a knife.”
Shaking, convulsing, sweating, she said for hours, her body waged a full-scale evacuation effort.
But it didn’t stop there, she said.
“For months, I would have rotating pain throughout my body,” she said.
Though the pain eventually ceased, she said, her menstrual cycle has never been the same.
In a pelvic ultrasound, a complex, multi-pronged cyst was discovered that was larger than a golf ball, she said.
Though many of these symptoms have dissipated, she said she still has an irregular menstrual cycle and has been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease that causes hypothyroidism.
After her initial physician refused to believe the vaccine caused it, she went to her rheumatologist, who agreed that getting a booster wouldn’t be safe, so she wrote her a medical exemption.
Despite her experience, studios have turned her down, and she was fired from a television show for not being boosted in October 2022.
At the risk of ostracizing herself further, Ms. Prewitt shared her experience on social media to bring awareness.
“It’s very established now that the COVID-19 vaccination and boosters do not prevent the spread of COVID,” she said. “You can get or give COVID regardless of your vaccination status, so it’s neither logical nor scientific. But it doesn’t matter to the entertainment industry because there’s now this belief system that’s been indoctrinated into our culture that claims if you aren’t vaccinated, you are deadly to yourself and others.”
SAG-AFTRA member Dorian Kingi, 2023. (Courtesy of Dorian Kingi)

SAG-AFTRA member Dorian Kingi, 2023. (Courtesy of Dorian Kingi)

SAG-AFTRA Lawsuit

Both Ms. Prewitt and Mr. Kingi are among the 100 plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against SAG-AFTRA in December for breach of fiduciary duty of fair representation, breach of contract, and negligence.
Gerard Fox Law filed the lawsuit on behalf of Protection of the Educational Rights of Kids (PERK), a parental sovereignty and medical freedom organization.
PERK President Amy Bohn said in a press release on the lawsuit that SAG-AFTRA members who have experienced discrimination and loss of work are “now taking matters into their own hands” to “preserve their medical freedom, bodily autonomy, and freedom of choice.”
According to the lawsuit, SAG-AFTRA members, based on their contract with the union, “had a right to expect that its Union would protect them, negotiate with the studios, producers and other hiring officials on their behalf to prevent prejudicial treatment for exerting their philosophical, religious, medical or disability-based reason for not taking the COVID-19 vaccine.”
“SAG-AFTRA had a continuing obligation to collectively work with their signatories to comply with applicable provisions and satisfy meet and confer opportunities as discussed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement before implementing forced vaccinations, however, they failed and, resultingly, failed their members,” the lawsuit states.
Knowing he would risk being once again blacklisted for being involved in the lawsuit, Mr. Kingi said he couldn’t just sit on the sidelines.
“It just felt wrong to me,” Mr. Kingi said. “This has crossed lines in more ways than one.”
Since her injury has made it unsafe for her to get boosted, Ms. Prewitt, whose last film role was in 2021, has landed only commercial work, which she said is less stringent than film and television regarding vaccine requirements.
“But my heart, soul, and passion have always been in TV and film,” she said. “Not being permitted to work in that has been heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking to finally start getting some auditions booked, then be kicked to the curb because of an inability to get a booster.”
She, too, was cognizant of potential further blacklisting for her participation in the lawsuit, Ms. Prewitt said, but like Mr. Kingi, she couldn’t stay silent.
“So many people have suffered so much and have had grave consequences from taking this vaccination,” she said. “How could I not stand up for those people and the people who are afraid to come forward? I don’t want to be on the wrong side of history and stand up for what matters.”
Ms. Prewitt said she’ll likely be taking pills for the rest of her life because of her vaccine injury.
“I’ve spent so much of my time and money at doctor’s offices trying to figure out what’s happening with my health,” she said. “What they did was wrong, and they can’t be allowed to do this again in the future. This is my hope.”
SAG-AFTRA member Bekka Prewitt, 2023. (Courtesy of Bekka Prewitt)

SAG-AFTRA member Bekka Prewitt, 2023. (Courtesy of Bekka Prewitt)

In a response to The Epoch Times’ request for comment, SAG-AFTRA said the claims “are without merit” and that it will “seek their dismissal.”
“The union has already defended and obtained dismissal of other charges brought against it before the National Labor Relations Board relating to the return-to-work agreement.”

Hollywood 4 Freedom

After he was fired from a television show in October 2021 for not taking the vaccine, Tatum Shank co-founded Hollywood 4 Freedom, an organization set up to “create a parallel economy Hollywood” unbeholden to the mandates and the COVID protocols.
“We wanted to create a safe space for people to share ideas,” Mr. Shank said. “Over the last couple of years, we’ve built a database of over 500 like-minded industry professionals. We’re a connection point between anybody who can get a job done and the production companies. We’re not a production company but more of a connecting point for those two sides.”
Mr. Shank, who is among the 100 plaintiffs in the lawsuit against SAG-AFTRA, continues to experience vaccine discrimination, he said.
“I just got audition notes the other day asking for my vaccine status, so it’s still going on out there, and if they start trying to push another pandemic, they’ll just bring all of this back,” he said. “That’s why this lawsuit is so important because if we win and show people what they did, it can keep it from happening again.”
SAG-AFTRA member Tatum Shank, 2023. (Courtesy of Tatum Shank)

SAG-AFTRA member Tatum Shank, 2023. (Courtesy of Tatum Shank)

‘A Class System’

Chuck Slavin, a plaintiff in the lawsuit and SAG-AFTRA board member for the New England chapter, has been “'advocating on all fronts’ for SAG-AFTRA board members.”
He stated that Mr. Slavin’s opinions aren’t representative of the New England chapter and isn’t speaking on its behalf.
He said his advocacy for this issue has been of his own volition.
“SAG-AFTRA conspired with our employers to formally allow all manner of infringements upon our members and then claim it was the right of the employers to do so, which sets a dangerous new precedent they call producer’s privilege,” Mr. Slavin said.
Instead of upholding its promise for equal employment opportunities by “preserving and expanding members’ work opportunities,” SAG-AFTRA created a class system within the union: those vaccinated have seniority and will get hired. At the same time, the unvaccinated remain unemployed, he said.
SAG-AFTRA board member Chuck Slavin, 2023. (Courtesy of Chuck Slavin)

SAG-AFTRA board member Chuck Slavin, 2023. (Courtesy of Chuck Slavin)

Mr. Slavin’s hope for the lawsuit is two-fold: a restoration of equal opportunity and justice, he said.
“Ultimately, SAG-AFTRA needs to be held accountable in these matters,” Mr. Slavin said. “It failed its members. Even members whose doctors were telling them not to get the vaccine were told they had to or they wouldn’t work, and that’s just insane.”
Mr. Slavin pointed to “The Mindy Project” actress Katarina Pavelek, a SAG-AFTRA member who, in July 2023, died by assisted suicide after a lengthy battle with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome that she reported to have gotten from the COVID booster shot.
“I know members who didn’t want to get the shot but had to just to work, then got injured or killed,” Mr. Slavin said. “It’s not a far leap from Harvey Weinstein’s Hollywood, where you’re told: ‘If you don’t do this, you won’t get your job.’ That’s a scary point in the industry.’”
Copy
facebooktwitterlinkedintelegram
Matt McGregor

Matt McGregor

Author

Matt McGregor covers news and features throughout the United States. Send him your story ideas: matt.mcgregor@epochtimes.us

California Insider
Sign up here for our email newsletter!
©2024 California Insider All Rights Reserved. California Insider is a part of Epoch Media Group.